BILLY JOE SAUNDERS will fight Shefat Isufi for the WBO Interim super middleweight world title on Saturday May 18 at The Lamex Stadium, home of Stevenage Football Club, live on BT Sport.
Successful defences followed against Artur Akavov, Willie Monroe jr and, most notably, a career-best operation against David Lemieux on off dirt in Canada.
He was set to make a further defence last October against mandatory challenger Demetrius Andrade, but finally opted to relinquish his title after the Massachusetts commission refused to licence him to fight in Boston after an adverse finding in a VADA test, even though he would have been evident to defend under the rules of the British Boxing Board of Control, as well as the UKAD and also WADA agencies that govern doping protocols.
Saunders came back into the ring in December in a maintain busy practice against Charles Adamu and has been installed as mandatory challenger due to his preceding title, with Andrade currently holding the buckle.
He’ll now break new territory by moving up to 168lbs and attempting to predominate at a second burden class.
His competitor could be that the WBO No.1 ranked Munich-based Serbian Isufi, that holds a list of 27-3-2 with 20 KOs. The 29-year-old could be that the holder of the WBO Intercontinental title and has made two defences of the belt he won by beating David Zegarra via an 11th round stoppage for that empty title in July 20 17.
Isufi is undefeated as a super middle weight.
“I am very, very happy for the fight, more or less, in order happening within my own hometown,” said Saunders to the brand new place development. “Stevenage and Hatfield is my own area and I’m excited to be fighting in front of my lsquo;dwelling ’ fans and that I am finally home.
“This really is my real homecoming from the time that I turned pro really.
“I understand I’ve got great support there and that I look forward for them all coming out and watching me put on an excellent display of boxing. I am simply glad I’m in this position now and Frank (promoter, Warren) has caused it to be work.
“It’s good times and that I guess it will be a total sell out. I’t got a lot of support in the town and it’S-A bonus that Stevenage is along the A1, which is exactly what all my fans will be travelling . ”
Saunders was set to fight for the full WBO world championship contrary to Isufi after a planned movement of the champion Gilberto Ramirez to lightheavyweight. After notifying the regulating body of his goal to leave the divisionthe Mexican later retracted his statementalthough he will fight for the first time at moderate heavy weight on April 1-2 in Los Angeles.
Saunders is unfazed by the about turn and states that he would like to personally part the champion out of his belt in the ring.
“It is what it really is without a problem,” he concluded. “I shall fight this No.1 ranked opponent and I will be carrying his spot after which I shall fight Ramirez after. Let’so get this fight happening.
“If he moves upward I would eventually become world champion but that I don’t desire to acquire it like that because I wish to beat the champion.
“It’s all good vibes in me, I am willing to fight anyone in the super-middleweight or middle weight category and put on a masterful display. ”
Promoter Frank Warren added: “I’m thrilled to be returning Bill into his dwelling patch for what is really a substantial development in his livelihood.
“Moving as much as super-middleweight opens all type of doors for future fights, the gigantic fights he craved at middleweight where his openness to resist one other champions wasn’t reciprocated.
“Bill has functioned at middle weight for a long time now and reached the top, therefore we both now feel that the time is right to expand his horizons and then proceed a weightreduction.
“If he’s successful against Isufi — and we aren’t underestimating the threat he poses — Bill will become world champion fight Ramirez for the title if he stick around at super middle weight.
“Stevenage is brand new territory for me and that I’m excited about breaking new ground. I am certain that the regional fans should come out in numbers to encourage their neighborhood person as Bill enters this next phase of the livelihood. ”
Saunders versus Isufi at the Lamex Stadium will be subject to licensing and can go on sale via www.borotickets.co.uk on April 1st.